Conor McPherson

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Conor McPherson
Born (1971-08-06) 6 August 1971 (age 47)
Dublin, Ireland
OccupationPlaywright, director

Conor McPherson (born 6 August 1971) is an Irish playwright and director.

Life and career[edit]

McPherson was born in Dublin.[1] He was educated at University College Dublin, McPherson began writing his first plays there as a member of UCD Dramsoc, the college's dramatic society, and went on to found Fly by Night Theatre Company which produced several of his plays. He is considered one of the best contemporary Irish playwrights; his plays have attracted good reviews, and have been performed internationally (notably in the West End and on Broadway).

The Weir opened at the Royal Court before transferring to the West End and Broadway. It won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play for 1999.

His 2001 play, Port Authority tells of three interwoven lives. The play was first produced by the Gate Theatre of Dublin but premiered at the New Ambassadors Theatre in London in February 2001, before moving to the Gate Theatre in April of that year. The production was directed by McPherson himself. New York's Atlantic Theater Company staged a production of the play in spring of 2008, starring Brian d'Arcy James, and Tony Award winners John Gallagher Jr. and Jim Norton. Says New York Times critic Ben Brantley, "I found myself holding on to what these actors had to say as if I were a 5-year-old at bedtime being introduced to 'The Arabian Nights.'"

McPherson also directed his play, Dublin Carol, at the Atlantic Theater Company, New York, in 2003.

His 2004 play Shining City opened at the Royal Court and prompted The Daily Telegraph to describe him as "the finest dramatist of his generation..."[2] A meditation on regret, guilt and confusion, the play is set entirely within the Dublin offices of a psychiatrist who himself has psychological secrets. Whilst much of the play takes the form of monologues delivered by a patient, the everyday stories and subtle poignancy and humour make it a riveting experience. It subsequently opened on Broadway in 2006 and was nominated for two Tony Awards, including Best Play.

In September 2006, to great critical acclaim, McPherson made his National Theatre debut as both author and director with The Seafarer at the Cottesloe auditorium, starring Karl Johnson and Jim Norton, with Ron Cook as their poker-playing, Mephistophelean guest. Jim Norton won an Olivier Award for his performance while McPherson was nominated for both the Olivier and Evening Standard Awards for Best Play. In October 2007 The Seafarer opened on Broadway, keeping with it most of its creative team, including McPherson as director and both Jim Norton and Conleth Hill in their respective roles, with David Morse taking over as Sharky, and Ciarán Hinds portraying Mr. Lockhart. The production on Broadway received some positive reviews including such statements as "McPherson is quite possibly the finest playwright of his generation"[3] from Ben Brantley at The New York Times and "Succinct, startling and eerie, and the funniest McPherson play to date"[4] from the Observer. Jim Norton's performance as Richard Harkin in The Seafarer at the National Theatre won the 2007 Best Supporting Actor Laurence Olivier Award, and he won a Tony Award in 2008 for Best Featured Actor in a play.

McPherson wrote and directed a stage adaptation of Daphne du Maurier's story The Birds, which opened in September 2009 at the Gate Theatre in Dublin.

The film of his first screenplay, I Went Down, was critically acclaimed and a great commercial success. His first feature film as a director, Saltwater, won the CICAE award for Best Film at the Berlin Film Festival. His second feature film was The Actors, which he wrote and directed.

He is the director and co-writer of The Eclipse, a film which had its world premiere at the 2009 Tribeca Film Festival. It was picked up for distribution by Magnolia Pictures and was released in US cinemas in Spring 2010.[5] The film subsequently won the Melies D'Argent Award for Best European Film at Sitges in Spain – the world's premier horror and fantasy genre festival. At The 2010 Irish Film and television Awards The Eclipse won the awards for Best Film and Best Screenplay.[6] Ciarán Hinds won the Best Actor Award at the Tribeca Film Festival for his portrayal of Michael Farr.

In 2011 the National Theatre London premiered his play The Veil at the Lyttleton. Described by The Times of London as a 'A cracking fireside tale of haunting and decay'[7] it is set in 1822 and marked McPherson's first foray into period drama. This vein continued with a striking new translation of August Strindberg's The Dance of Death premiered at the Trafalgar Studios in London at the end of 2012. His version was described as a 'A profoundly seminal work' by The Guardian which also managed to be 'Shockingly funny', The Times.[8]

The Donmar Warehouse mounted a season of McPherson's work in 2013 with a revival of The Weir and the world premiere of The Night Alive. The Weir was hailed once again as 'A modern classic' by The Telegraph and 'A contemporary classic' by The Guardian[9] while The Night Alive was nominated for The Laurence Olivier Award for Best Play and described as 'Another triumph' by the Independent on Sunday and 'A masterstroke' by Time Out, which 'Sees the Irish playwright at his compassionate best,' Financial Times[10]

The Night Alive transferred to The Atlantic Theatre New York, where it was awarded The New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play 2014, and also received Best Play nominations from the Drama Desk and Lucille Lortell Awards[11]

In recognition of his contribution to world theatre, McPherson was awarded a Doctor of Literature Degree, Honoris Causa, in June 2013 by the University College Dublin.[12] In 2013, he wrote the last episode of Quirke.

McPherson's play Girl from the North Country, where the dramatic action is broken up by 20 songs by Bob Dylan, opened in London's The Old Vic on July 26, 2017.[13] The play is set in a hotel in 1934 in Duluth, Minnesota, the birth place of Dylan. The project began when Dylan's office approached McPherson and suggested creating a play using Dylan songs. The drama received favorable reviews.[14][15]


McPherson has cited James Joyce and Stanley Kubrick as two of his "heroes".[16]

Theatre awards[edit]

Theatre-related awards won by McPherson include:[17]

  • Stewart Parker Award The Good Thief
  • Meyer Whitworth Award This Lime Tree Bower
  • Guinness/Royal National Theatre Ingenuity Award This Lime Tree Bower
  • Pearson TV Writer in Residence Award This Lime Tree Bower
  • Evening Standard Award The Weir
  • George Devine Award The Weir
  • Critics Circle Award The Weir
  • Laurence Olivier Award The Weir
  • Tony Award nomination for Best Play Shining City
  • Tony Award nominations for Best Play and Best Director The Seafarer
  • Laurence Olivier and Evening Standard nominations for Best Play The Seafarer
  • Manchester Evening News Award Best Touring Production The Seafarer
  • Laurence Olivier Award nomination Best Play "The Night Alive"
  • New York Drama Critics Circle Award Best Play "The Night Alive"
  • Lucille Lortel Award Best Play nomination "The Night Alive"
  • Drama Desk Award Best Play nomination "The Night Alive"

Selected films[edit]



  1. ^ "Conor McPherson Biography (1970?-)". Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  2. ^ Charles Spencer 12:01AM BST 11 Jun 2004 (2004-06-11). "Moving, compassionate and gripping". Telegraph. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  3. ^ By Ben Brantley (2007-02-08). "The Seafarer - There Came a Gypsy Riding - Theater - London - Column - The New York Times". Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  4. ^ 19.53 EDT (2014-05-28). "Theatre: The Seafarer, A Moon for the Misbegotten and others | Stage". The Guardian. Retrieved 2017-08-04.
  5. ^ "Magnolia Pictures". Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  6. ^ "Irish Film & Television Network | IFTN | Ireland Film & TV News and Information | Television Production in Ireland | Film and television company directory, Irish film locations, actors, crew, industry events, jobs | The Irish Film & Television Network". 20 July 2011. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  7. ^ "National Theatre The Veil". Archived from the original on 13 January 2014.
  8. ^ "Donmar Dance of Death".
  9. ^ "Donmar The Weir".
  10. ^ "Donmar Night Alive".
  11. ^ "Conor McPherson's The Night Alive scoops Best Play from New York Critics".
  12. ^ "Irish Times UCD Bloomsday Awards". The Irish Times.
  13. ^ FromTheBoxOffice (2017-08-12). "Conor McPherson's Girl from the North Country: What is it about?". FROM THE BOX OFFICE Blog. Retrieved 2017-08-10.
  14. ^ Billington, Michael (July 27, 2017). "Girl from the North Country review – Dylan's songs are Depression-era dynamite". Retrieved 2017-08-12.
  15. ^ Trueman, Matt (July 26, 2017). "London Theater Review: Bob Dylan Musical 'Girl From the North Country'". Variety. Retrieved 2017-08-12.
  16. ^ "Conor McPherson Q&A: "Aged nine, I heard the Beatles. My life as an artist began"". New Statesman. September 11, 2017. Retrieved September 30, 2017.
  17. ^ "Conor McPherson – Current Member | Aosdana". Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  18. ^ Karen Fricker (15 April 2005). "Review of Poor Beast in the Rain". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 October 2013.
  19. ^ The Nest at the Young Vic Theatre, London, directed by Ian Rickson.
  20. ^ FromTheBoxOffice (2017-06-09). "Conor McPherson's Girl from the North Country: What is it about?". FROM THE BOX OFFICE Blog. Retrieved 2017-08-10.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]